Several months ago Sebastian Wober of Cinema 5D reviewed the DJI Inspire 2 drone and Zenmuse X5s camera system in an article entitled “DJI Inspire 2 Review – The Drone that Rivals ARRI Alexa Image Quality?
The 18 minute detailed video review (see full video at the bottom of this summary report) discusses many features of the drone and camera system of which Sebastian says that it is not simply a drone and camera but a “a cinematic filming solution for professionals” To prove his point he produced a beautifully shot video entitled “The Clouded Morning” based on a poem by Jones Very. It should be noted that all laws were followed in producing this drone video.
If you do not have the time or inclination to watch the video here are some screen shots that demonstrate the high cinematic quality of the drone.
***Please note that the screenshots used in this article pertaining to the original article are being used with the permission of Sebastian Wober***
The highlights of the video reviewing the Inspire 2 drone and X5s camera comparing the image quality to the Arri Alexa Mini are summarized below. First we will discuss the drone, then the camera and the features of the application that controls the drone. Both pros and cons will also be listed.
Inspire 2 Drone
The Inspire 2 has a better speed at 58 miles per hour than its predecessor due to its bigger stronger motors that also make the drone more agile. The drone is designed with better ergonomics and is much more stable in the air, especially in windy conditions.
The Inspire 2 has extended flying times and can stay in the air for around 20+ minutes
There are a variety of safety features such as redundant self-heating batteries that work especially well in colder weather. The drone can fly with one battery so if one fails it can still fly and land safely. There are dual or redundant IMU’s so if one fails the other one takes over. An IMU is a specially designed sensor that combines the features of an accelerometer and gyroscope. In other words it monitors, collects and adjusts information about the acceleration, position, orientation and speed of the drone so that it can fly and be controlled safely. There are three collision sensor areas. They are in the front, bottom and top. However for cinematic shots that require the camera to be very close to the object of focus or fly through tight and narrow spaces experienced and skillful pilots can turn the sensors off in the app. so that the more advanced and complex shots can be achieved.
The full setup of the Inspire 2 can be achieved in as fast as 55 seconds – compare that to the Freefly Alta 8 with a Red camera that takes 30 – 45 minutes. However, for practical purposes that include safety checks, connecting controllers, follow focus, turning on the app. and adjusting settings, changing out lenses, etc. the setup is really about 5 minutes still vastly quicker than other drones and cameras used on professional sets.
The battery charger holds four batteries and charges 2 at one time in about 1 hr. to 90 minutes
There are intelligent flight modes, but not all that are available on the Mavic Pro are available currently in the Inspire 2. They are coming soon – on DJI time 😉
Active flight mode can be used to follow cars or objects, however Sebastian says that the app. setting will change to auto mode and this is not good for pros.
The Tripod mode is very useful and precise for slow movement and flying through narrow tight spaces. When indoors however, magnetic interference may occur that could cause issues and prevent the mode from working or achieving the desired result.
X5s Camera System
The Inspire 2 drone with the X5s camera system shoots cinema quality 5.2k raw that is comparable to the Arri Alexa Mini and actually outperforms the Alexa Mini in detail. You can see this clearly in the following two photos. Please note that the Arri Mini is ProRes and the X5s footage requires post processing and a lut to bring it into the color space of the Arri. Nevertheless, the comparison demonstrates that the DJI Inspire 2 is indeed a professional cinema camera capable of shooting Hollywood-Grade film on high end production sets.
ProRes recording recording in 4444 XQ and 422 HQ. The Apple Prores 4444 XQ is “absolutely flawless” says Wober.
The X5s has an Interchangeable lens system that currently allows for the use of the following 8 lenses with equivalent focal lengths of 24mm-90mm.
- Olympus M.Zuiko 12mm/2.0
- DJI MFT 15mm/1.7 ASPH
- Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm/1.8
- Panasonic Lumix 15mm/1.7
- Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm/1.8
- Panasonic Lumix 14-42mm/3.5-5.6 HD
- Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm/1.8
- Olympus M.Zuiko 9-18mm/4.0-5.6
In conclusion Mr. Wober states tha the Inspire 2 and X5s camera system is “scary amazing, and the best drone money can by for single operators and challenges the best cinema cameras in terms of image quality”
To be fair there are some issues that one purchasing or using the drone should know about. Our attitude, however, is that while there are some cons to the Inspire 2, we are not aware of any camera or drone that is perfect in every way and there are always some feature one wants that unfortunately camera manufacturers do not or cannot add.
- ProRes color always defaults to “none” and burns in a “bad look” when not changed manually
- Obstacle avoidance triggers too quickly and ruins “flyby” shots
- The DJI Go App is too crowded, some buttons are too small and popups are unorganized
- The image transmission often broke up quickly, at a distance of around 800m
- Every second shot had a bad horizon, although this can be fixed in post easily
- Focusing is still horrible. You tap to auto-focus but never know if you’re in focus or not until after the shoot.